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Many of us have iPhones with numerous sensors built in. These sensors can be used to build a lot of apps, but it’s important to note that many of these apps weren’t even thought of when the device was made. The PlanIT Valley project from the Living PlanIT team is similar in a lot of ways, but instead of a few sensors, there will be 100 million sensors spread out over 17 km2, which is about the size of Manhattan Island in New York City. This will allow wireless sensor networks to be embedded in and connected to an entire city. With these sensors,
we will be able to use apps like those on our smartphones, but they will be able to track and predict our every move in a way that has never been done before. The unusual thing about this project is that the architects aren’t the usual construction and real estate types. Instead, they are computer people who look at building cities through the lens of the software industry. Many places around the world, like New Sangdo in South Korea, Masdar in Abu Dhabi, and Dongtan in China, are building “smart cities” or “green cities” to help keep a planet with more than 6 billion people alive. With more than half of those people moving from rural areas to cities and another 3 billion being born in cities by 2050, the world’s population is expected to grow by 47%, to 8.9 billion.
Living PlanIT has developed three different areas of technology to meet the needs of a world that is growing quickly. One of the main pillars is sensor network technology (SNT), which uses new developments in intelligent construction to embed sensor technologies in a way that provides applied intelligence, better understanding, and predicts what people will do in the future. The second is the Xtreme Construction XTC, which is a modular way of building that is based on a systematic way of making software. The third is an ambitious Urban Operating System (UOS) that gets information from an integrated sensor technology network that connects every function of the urban environment. Data is combined and aggregated to make information, which is then analyzed and inspected to get knowledge and insight that the UOS can use. Together, distributed sensing and processing and central command and control make it easier to run a city and get the most out of it.
Think about how the network of sensors and actuators in and around PlanIT Valley could help if there was road construction or an accident near the city. This could start to cause traffic jams, which could make it harder to get into and out of the city. It could also have some other effects on local roads. The US knows how traffic flows in and around the city and how it changes with the time of day, the season, and the weather. Then, all of this information would be put together to make an accurate prediction of what would happen over the next few hours. This would let the city’s traffic management systems, which run “on top” of the UOS, reduce the impact by changing routing algorithms and traffic controls or making more alternative transportation options available.
Research and development on an urban scale need a lot of qualified and less qualified help. This is one reason why the Living PlanIT project chose Portugal. Portugal has a high level of education, and there are five major universities within 90 km of the PlanIT Valley site. The University of Porto, which is the biggest university in Portugal, is less than 15 kilometers away. Also, there is a lot of focus on developing knowledge to help with the transition to a knowledge economy.
The PlanIT Valley project is in the Portuguese town of Paredes, which is close to Porto. The project has been well received locally, nationally, and internationally, and Forrester, Harvard Business School, and many others see it as a key smart city development. Portugal is a good place to live because it is close to both Europe and the rest of the world. It is between the Americas, Europe, Africa, the Middle East, and Asia, so it is easy to get to both North America and the Far East.
The plan is to use this model everywhere in the world where new cities are being built, like in China, India, and Brazil. These creative thinkers are going to change the way people see cities. The business model is based on a network of companies, most of which work in technology. Accenture is one of the partners, and Cisco is one of the key partners. At the IDTechEx Conference in Munich on Energy Harvesting and Storage, co-located with Wireless Sensor Networks and RTLS, Thierry Marten will be one of the keynote speakers. He will talk about the challenges and the smart and connected community in PlanIT Valley 1.0. Thierry Martens is the Vice President of Cisco Advanced Systems and the Executive Vice President of PlanIT Sensors.
Ms. Joy Weiss, president, and CEO of Dust Networks in the United States will be one of the other speakers. She will talk about low-power sensing and location systems based on wireless mesh networks and their time-synchronized, channel-hopping TSCH protocols. She will show examples of how these networks have been used successfully in the real world. Mr. Sunghak Song, who is a principal engineer at Samsung SDS in Korea, will talk about the problems with real-time locating systems (RTLS). Dr. Thomas Kafka, who works for GE Energy in Germany as a Field Application Engineer, will talk about machine condition monitoring. Dr. Sokwoo Rhee, co-founder, and chief technology officer of Millennial Net in the US, will talk about dynamic mesh networks and the opportunities that come up when RFID and energy harvesting are used together. These speakers and about 50 others will talk about a wide range of topics, including healthcare, body sensor networks, sports apparel, smart textiles, and many more.
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